September 4, 2014
A Vision Statement
One of the first things every community should have is a reason for doing what they do. I’ve said it numerous times before and I’ll probably elaborate on it even more in a future blog but the first and most important part of every community is the “why”. I won’t go into more details now; if you want to refresh your memory watch this video.
A vision statement for a community is important to understanding the why and sharing a grand “perfect world” example of what things would be like if the community’s why is achieved. If you have never heard or thought about a vision statement before or if you simply want to learn more about them then keep reading.
What is a Vision Statement
According to the Business Dictionary the definition for a vision statement is as follows:
An aspirational description of what an organization would like to achieve or accomplish in the mid-term or long-term future. It is intended to serves as a clear guide for choosing current and future courses of action.
These aspirations are usually grand in scope and world-changing in philosophy. Some might even consider them to be unattainable. The vision is what the community strives to see happen. It’s their purpose for existing and their motivation for future improvements. The vision statement helps to shape the direction and course for decisions and choices which might affect the entire community.
Because the vision statement shapes the direction of the community it is quite important that the vision match up closely with the why of the community. Now that we understand what a vision statement is by definition let’s look at a few examples.
Examples of Vision Statements
The following are some examples of vision statements from well-known companies. See if you can find similarities between them.
Shaping the future by preserving our heritage, discovering new knowledge, and sharing our resources with the world
Our vision is nothing less than realizing the full potential of the Internet — universal access to research and education, full participation in culture — to drive a new era of development, growth, and productivity.
– Creative Commons
Our vision is a world in which every child attains the right to survival, protection, development and participation.
– Save the Children
Almost every community, non-profit organization, and company has a vision statement. I’ve explained the reasons above why a vision statement is important and now we have three samples from three vastly different types of organizations. What similarities can we find? First, each of these statements clearly defines a purpose: shaping the future (Smithsonian), drive a new era (Creative Commons), and every child attains the right (Save the Children). Each of these purposes is grand in scale. Each one wants to change the world.
There’s nothing wrong with a vision statement that seems impossible to achieve. Your vision is your ideals, your goal, and the thing which motivates you as you make decisions. If you are in a community that doesn’t want to change the world…then why would you even bother. Making a difference in the world is one thing which instills the passion in volunteers.
A Problem Identified
As I shared previously, I’m excited to be involved in a brand new open source community. Mautic, is a free and open source marketing automation software. The Mautic community is centered on a very particular focus. Small business. The little guy. The underdog. Whatever you want to call us. We’re the ones working to build the base for our world. Our companies are the ones which employ the most people, provide the most revenue, and give stability to the global economy.
Previously we’ve been neglected. Big business likes to work with big business. That means big software companies like to focus on big business because they can charge more money and make more profits. Because of this misplaced focus the small businesses are disadvantaged. We lose out on access to tools and resources which others are able to use. Because we are ignored we lose opportunities. Without opportunities our chances for success are lessened. We see this as a problem.
The Mautic community is focused on solving this problem. We, as a collective group of individuals, are joining together for a purpose, and a cause. We have grand ideas about what we want to do and we want to see the world changed. Here is our vision statement:
Mautic is free and open source marketing automation and our community is passionate about doing big things and changing our world. I can’t wait to share more about what we can do and how we can do it. I’ll hopefully provide another update as things move quickly towards a grand unveiling. I’m excited to be able to be a part of something so revolutionary and if you’re interested in joining this community you are welcome to become a part. We’re all in this together and we’re passionate about changing our world.
August 18, 2014
Why Do You Use Open Source?
I’ve been thinking about this post for a little while. I wanted to make sure I gave the right message and asked the right questions. I think I have a few key questions now that I’d like to present. There are of course other reasons, everyone is unique and we can certainly have vastly different reasons for contributing (or using) open source. My main question is semi-rhetorical-Why do you use open source?
There are of course a number of reasons to use open source and as I mentioned in my opening paragraph it would be foolish to think I could cover all of them in a simple blog post but I’m going to list a few and I’d like you to use them as starting points to decide why you use open source and if it makes the most sense to continue using open source for your needs.
Reason 1: Belief in a goal
The first reason many people get into open source is for a deep-seated belief in a goal. I’ve written previously about what makes a strong community and why a shared set of goals and a vision is a powerful motivator. Does that require the product or community to be open source? Remember, I’m asking just questions I’d like you to consider and think through your reasonings. Can you accomplish the goals you want without being open source? Is there a reason you selected open source to accomplish what you want?
Reason 2: Make the big bucks
Second reason for choosing open source. You want to make the big money. You want to find yourself ridiculously wealthy and open source sounds like a hot buzz word that would be a great niche market to make your fortune. Is this a valid reason for choosing open source? Certainly there are open source companies which have done exceptionally well (obligatory link to the RedHat model). However, there are dissenters who strongly disagree with this model. Did you choose open source because of the money? Was open source created by companies looking to maximize profitability?
Reason 3: Share the joy
The third reason I’ll list why you might choose open source is because you like to share in something fun. Maybe you like to have a good time and enjoy hanging out with friends and having a laugh. Open source communities are a great way to meet people and just ‘hang out’ but I’d ask the same question as before. Does it have to be open source to do that? Can you have the same amount of fun outside of open source? Sharing is more unusual in a business environment but sharing fun is still something you do with your friends outside of work. Of course open source is all about sharing…but is it all about fun? Is this the reason you chose open source?
Reason 4: Leave a legacy
Maybe you chose open source because you want to leave a legacy. You want to be legendary and you believe open source is the only way to do that. Obviously that’s a bit tongue in cheek as there are many ways to leave a legacy without working in open source code. Right? A quick look at history will yield the truth about the true legends of our time. Does open source offer the only way to be legendary? Does it offer any way to leave a legacy? Be sure your focus in right when considering your motives and reasons for wanting to leave a legacy.
Of course there are many, many good reasons for using open source. I will list a handful of them in a future article but for this particular post I simply want to ask you why you chose open source? What do you want to accomplish? What motivates and drives you to work with open source.
Where to start
The best place to start is understanding your “why”. This point is key. If you aren’t sure then watch this clip from Simon Sinek. It’s absolutely worth your time.